Around the world, people of Irish descent - and those who sometimes wish they were - are counting the days to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this Saturday!
So, whether you are Irish or not, start choosing your green outfit and go to the nearest pub have a Guinness in honour of Ireland’s patron.
The feast of Saint Patrick, also called St Patrick’s Day or Paddy's Day, is a religious celebration held on the death date of Saint Patrick, 17th March, to commemorate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. St Patrick’s day was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the 9th Century.
Saint Patrick was born in either Scotland or Wales, in around 390 AD when the British Islands were part of the Roman Empire and he was sold into slavery in Ireland as a teenager. He managed to escape but later returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary, becoming a bishop, converting the Celtic Pagans and was chosen as Ireland’s patron.
Because St Patrick’s Day happens during Lent, the 40 day period prior to Easter when Catholics abstain from alcohol, chocolate or too much food consumption in order to make some kind of sacrifice in order to be closer to Christ’s sacrifice, historically on that day there was a lift of the food and drink restriction so people celebrated then, as they do now, by eating typical Irish dishes such as Guinness Pie or Irish Soda Bread and drinking Guinness beer and Whisky, but if you have any drop of Irish blood, you will celebrate mainly by drinking, drinking a lot!
Although Saint Patrick didn’t wear green, he used the shamrock- that clover with 3 leaves - to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish, each leave symbolizing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The shamrock's green colour became then the Irish colour and to celebrate the Irish traditions and culture, people wear shamrocks and dress in green. They decorate pubs and streets in green, some dye green their beer and food and many well-known landmarks around the world are lit in green.
Ireland obviously has the longest Saint Patrick’s celebration that lasts an entire week with festivals of Irish music, dancing and of course, drinking. Over a million people come to the Dublin Parade.
You will also find huge parades in New York, in Asia and Canada but the first one was held in Boston in 1737 by Irish immigrants who wanted to celebrate their cultural heritage.
It is the national festival celebrated in more countries than any other.
In Great-Britain, the Queen-mother used to give to the members of the Irish Guards bowls of shamrocks flown from Ireland for the special day.
In Vienna there will be a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade with Irish music and dancing, Prater’s Giant Ferris wheel and other famous Viennese sights will be illuminated in green light.
St Patrick’s Days is even celebrated in space! In 2013 astronaut Chris Hadfield took photos of himself wearing green in the space station and photos of Ireland seen from space and posted them online to commemorate Ireland's Patron.
And all Pubs around the world will be extremely packed with merry people dressed in green.
Have a look at our green selection and get ready to celebrate St Patrick's Day in style!